The focus of the 2014 Florida Realtors Conference was productivity, profitability, and professionalism for the more than 2,500 Realtors® that attended in Orlando. In addition to informative training sessions and countless networking opportunities, the conference included a lively Carnaval theme with a concert series that had bodies moving and hands clapping. Attendees had the opportunity to sit-in on more than 30 education sessions, some of which were attended by NAWRB Member Renee Marie Smith, Esq.
A Session Recap by NAWRB Member Renee Marie Smith, Esq.
When Dodd Frank passed, many of us were scratching our heads trying to understand its impact. The Education Session on Dodd-Frank—Why Washington Made Us Change, which included panelists Grant Simon, Dana R. Ward, Michael E. “Mickey” Godat, and Nashad Khan was very helpful. This law is over 1,500 pages of complex legalese. The panel selected isolated topics from those pages to summarize instead of trying to outline the entire law. I highlighted three of these topics.
One: Changes to Debt to Income Ratio in Lending
The crafters of the law saw it as the “answer” to the out of control lending problem; lowering the DTI limits the exposure for overleveraged primary lending. The law phases in the lowering of DTI for lending over the course of seven years so practitioners must revise their underwriting requirements each year to comply. At the end of the seven year phase, DTI will be limited to 43% of revolving debt and loans.
Two: The Power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
This is now the most powerful agency in the U.S. It can investigate, enforce and initiate lawsuits with its own powers and eliminated the need to inter-bureau investigations. If the CFPB appears, you can have a civil and criminal case filed against you. It is funded by fines and imposes a fiduciary duty on all parties involved in consumer lending (including agents). There is no statute of limitations to prevent investigation either.
Three: Pitfalls of Affiliated Businesses
Marketing arrangements are subject to review and fines for failing to properly include disclosures. You can be held financially responsible for your partners’ actions even if you aren’t involved. If you have a joint venture and/or an appearance of an affiliated business, you must learn about the closing disclosure language. CFPB went to a company to investigate one report and stayed for years only to fine them for failure to properly include disclosures. Fines can range from $5,000 up to $1 million a day.
To summarize, when I walked out of the Dodd Frank education session, I agreed that lending in the U.S. was forever changed and not so sure for the better. However, it is the law and if you choose real estate as a profession, learning how to comply in your area is needed. When in doubt disclose, discuss, and decide on the most conservative method of handling consumer loans that come through your office.